As you may know, today is Groundhog Day. But what is the history of this strange holiday? Find out in this story reprinted from our February newsletter!
by Donna Avina
February 2 is Candlemas Day. For centuries farmers in France, England, and Germany studied the habits of animals such as bears and badgers, to help them decide when to plant their crops. Punxstawney Phil, and others like Wiarton Willie before him, have become the American symbol of the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
When farmers from Germany began to settle in the Pennsylvania area of America in the early 1800s, they searched for a way to predict when Spring would arrive, so they could safely plant. Some farmers tried using the direction of the wind on February 2. Others tried using the clouds. There was an abundance of groundhogs in their new American homeland, so they began following their activities for clues.
It was 1887 when groundhog day was born on Feb. 2, Candlemas Day.
Though few today believe this is the way to correctly predict Spring planting dates, the tradition continues, often with a wink and a smile.